Do you often wake up during the night gasping for air? Does your partner swear that you constantly keep them up with your loud snoring while you sleep? If so, you may have a serious health condition known as sleep apnea. This breathing disorder makes you pause your breathing in your sleep. It manifests by pausing multiple times each hour, lasting more than 10 seconds each time. It lowers your blood oxygen levels, so you awaken after a full night’s sleep feeling drowsy throughout your day, affecting your memory, thinking process, and mood.
Sleep Apnea Breathing Pauses
If this describes you, you likely have sleep apnea ranging from mild to moderate to severe levels. The severity is assessed by how many times your breathing pauses during each hour. Mild obstructive sleep apnea is experiencing five to 15 pauses in your breathing (or events) in one hour. Moderate obstructive sleep apnea is between 15-30 pauses in an hour, while over 30 events put you into the severe obstructive sleep apnea category.
If your breath is trying to get through a blocked upper airway around your tongue’s position, you’ll end up snoring like a bear as your tongue and throat muscles over-relax, causing a blockage impeding your airflow.
While breathing devices such as the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine are often used to treat sleep apnea, they are not the only treatment available. Right now, there are over 100 oral appliances approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating sleep apnea. These customized mouth guards are worn over your teeth to open your airway as you sleep. They are effective for people who have mild to moderate sleep apnea levels and are ideal for people who struggle using their CPAP to breathe while they sleep.
Choosing an Oral Device To Combat Sleep Apnea and Snoring
When looking for an oral appliance to combat sleep apnea symptoms, you’ll want to find something that feels comfortable so it doesn’t keep you awake. You will need to wear it every night, so you can get the sleep you need and eliminate the chronic fatigue that can lead to accidents and health problems. The two most common kinds of oral devices used for snoring and sleep apnea are the Tongue Stabilizing Devices (TSD) and a Mandibular Advancing Device (MAD) to keep your airways open.
Tongue Stabilizing Devices (TSD)
These work by holding your tongue in place to keep it from relaxing too much. It also helps prevent it from falling back into the airway, blocking your airflow. By pulling the tongue forward, this device helps prevent snoring by keeping the airway open and unimpeded. Being an oral appliance, it is compact (unlike a CPAP machine with its tubes and case), making travel a breeze. This device keeps the tongue clear from the throat. Another benefit to this device is that it doesn’t interfere with the jaw position, so you don’t have to worry about TMJ or your teeth moving around otherwise.
Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs)
This oral appliance is the most popular of all the night guards out there approved by the FDA. It looks a lot like the kind of mouthguard you would wear if you are athletic or are treating bruxism (where you grind your teeth and clench your jaw in your sleep). This device works by gently shifting your lower jaw forward and moving your tongue forward in the process to keep your airway open and prevent snoring.
The way to get a sleep apnea mouth guard that works properly for you is to have one custom-made for your mouth. It will ensure that it is comfortable to wear and easy to use. Regular checkups are recommended to make sure it continues to fit as you won’t feel like wearing it if it doesn’t fit well.
If you are tired of not getting the sleep you need, please give us a call to schedule a consultation and sleep study and assess whether you have sleep apnea and if an oral appliance can help you!